The Terrible, No-Good, Utterly Awful History of how America has treated Asian Immigrants and Citizens.

Researching Racism is like peeling an onion, unfortunately. You always find new layers to look into.

Malcolm Johnson
81 min readMay 24, 2021


In the wake of all the attacks on Asian Americans, I wanted to write up a timeline of what’s been going on. However, as I started my research I got a hard reminder of not only how far back Anti-Asian sentiment goes, and how institutionalized it all was, particularly here in California, where I live now.

No analysis of what’s happening to Asian-Americans in the COVID era is possible without looking hard at our own collective history going back to the founding. So I present to you, The Terrible, No-Good, Utterly Awful History of how America has treated Asian Immigrants and Citizens.

The fundamental spine of this comes Timeline from the University of Texas at Austin’s Department of History, where they have a fantastic timeline on the history of Immigration in this country. If it’s something you want to teach in High School or just want to know the sheer and audacious lengths to which we’ve gone to ban non-white people from this country, it’s a great place to start. I’m also relying on the New York Times analysis of recent attacks on Asians following Donald Trump’s scapegoating in the wake of the COVID pandemic. But there have been so many attacks that it will take further updates to this list to get them to them all.

While this Timeline will focus on Anti-Asian Sentiment, it will also feature points in history that also attacked African-Americans, Latinos, Muslims, and Native Americans for context. And I’d like to apologize in advance that this Timeline might skew a little heavily toward Chinese-Americans. There are events featuring Japanese-Americans, Vietnamese-Americans, and Filipino-Americans but researching racism in America is like peeling an onion. You get through one layer, and there are just SCORES more to dig into.

My research is attached directly to the underlined text. Click on anything, and it’ll take you to where I found it.

We’ll start with early American History, and move on to the Trump years in the next part.